Sunday, April 11, 2010

Clash of the Titans

I'm not one of those people who watched the original Clash of the Titans movie over and over. I saw it a few times, and I barely remember any more of it than a few impressions and a handful of memorable elements. So I went to see the new Clash of the Titans in 3D based on the trailers making me think I might enjoy it. Having seen it, I think I'd just as well have waited for the DVD.

Sure, on DVD I couldn't see it in 3D, but this is really a testament to what James Cameron is saying: converting something that was neither composed for, nor filmed in, 3D, is only going to give 3D a bad name. At best it was unimportant; at worst, distracting. Rarely did it really add anything. At least we haven't slid back to the days when 3D movies meant people poking things towards you all the time (though the people who made Step Up 3D haven't heard, judging from the trailer... then again, there wasn't enough in Step Up to make one movie, let alone three, so what else are they gonna do? But I digress.)

A movie like this is mostly about the action scenes, and often I found myself thinking, hmm, this looks like a good fight scene, I wish I could see it, or tell what was going on. Frequently, you could tell the outcome of an action sequence only because the characters told each other what resulted, or because you already knew how it had to end, but you couldn't tell how they got there. How many of those things were there? Who was where? How did he end up there? I think you're not supposed to care. Take it too far, though, and they might as well just film blurry things for 10 minutes moving in random directions and show us that.

There were also a lot of characters that must have seemed like a good idea, but ultimately, the movie would have been the same without them. I suspect there's another movie's worth of material on the cutting room floor, and a lot of actors who are irked at their roles being boiled down to nothing. We were meant to care about a bunch of Argosian soldiers, but we never even got to know most of their names. Even so, a few of them managed to get personalities -- the old veteran with a morbid sense of humor, the green and nervous tyro, and the gruff but brave commander -- in spite of themselves.

They fared better than most everyone else. A pair of hunters were given a big buildup, then maybe five minutes of screen time, all of which could have been deleted with no change in the story. Most of the gods don't even get any lines, and only two get identified by name (though you'd have to be pretty oblivious to not recognize Apollo from his one line). Andromeda was probably lucky to get three or four minutes of screen time doing something other than being in distress, but she can't hold a candle to expositIon, the real heroine of the story, who got more lines than even Perseus, I think.

The film was choppy and in too much of a hurry to ever do anything all the way, causing my interest to sometimes drift. Maybe the plot held together better than the first, but if so, only because the first didn't try to hold its plot together. To be fair, it had some good laughs (and I only mean the intended ones), and a few of the smaller roles got fairly good acting (though the major ones only got scenery-chewing), and the production values were mostly solid. It'd make a perfectly good light entertainment action movie for an evening at home on Blu-ray. But don't waste your cinema ticket price, especially not the 3D premium.

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